Last weekend, for the first time in weeks, it rained here in Louisiana. It was glorious. I am definitely a cliche when it comes to rain; I find it beautiful and calming and relaxing and wonderful. Especially when I don’t have to drive in it or leave my house and be incovenienced by it.
What I’m saying is I love rain when it rains on my terms.
But this rain was on my terms. The raindrops were cold–a needed refreshment in this scorching heat–and it was exactly the right amount, not too heavy and not too light. It also stopped me from having to go outside and melt my skin off to water my garden, which is only a problem because I’m inordinately lazy, and not because it’s actually a bother in any real, significant way.
My son, however, has a very different relationship with rain. When rain is on the horizon, he gets nervous and I have to spend a long time calming him down and preparing him for oncoming rain. And as he develops more language to express his feelings and his reservations, he is more vocal about his displeasure with impending rain. So I knew that this weekend would be no different. Friday when the sky darkened and the air was fragrant with that beautiful, indescribable smell of rain on the horizon, I knew that we would have to have our familiar rain prep conversation.
To his credit, my son took it much more in stride that in rainstorms past. Maybe because we only experienced gentle summer showers, or maybe because he’s maturing, or maybe because three is a really complicated age and next time he will be an absolute mess–but for whatever reason, he was more contented than usual.
When the rain had finished on Friday, we were treated to true, beautiful magic, and I got to experience the world through the eyes of a toddler.
My son loves rainbows. To this point, we had only seen rainbows as illustrations in books and represented in various media together. But when this rainbow arced down seemingly across the street from us as we waited outside the restaurant we had just left, the world stilled and my son open-mouth stared at the gift that had been placed in the air for him and him alone. That was nobody else’s rainbow. It was for him.
Who was I to argue with that?
Normally, my son is a blur–energy personified–bouncing from place to place, and comes with his own tailwind. But for just a moment, time stood still around him as he saw this beautiful view. (Seriously, the picture doesn’t do it justice.) His eyes filled with genuine glee and his mouth curved into a big, goofy grin. And if this picture inspires anything in you, then you can’t imagine how moved you could be by that look. (Surely I say this from a place of unbiased observation.)
Within a few moments, it disappeared, and with it, so did the magic. My son was back to life in fast-forward and the the stillness of the world dissipated into the cacophony of traffic and wind and outdoor sound systems. We went to Barnes & Noble, bought more books than I intended to, and went home for the night.
But there was still magic to come.
Sunday evening while we were driving, we were on the highway. There were no cars around us, we were listening The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on audiobook as a family, and overhead the most vibrant and beautiful rainbow I’ve seen in my entire life appeared. I didn’t have my phone (I know–who leaves home without their phones?) so I didn’t get the catch the moment, with that soaring beautiful, Technicolor, double rainbow. It arced all the way across the sky and stopped me in my tracks.
So I did what any responsible parent would do. I pulled over on the side of the highway, held my son in my arms, and let him stare up at the rainbow for as long as he wanted.
“It’s so pretty,” he uttered over and over, as if every time he looked at it was the first time. “It’s so pretty, daddy.”
We stood there in the cool, damp air, the wind blowing around us, staring at the sky for possibly seconds and possibly years as we both appreciated the beauty and the wonder above us. It’s not everyday you get to see something quite so beautiful. We chased that rainbow all the way home, with the radio off and sitting in contented silence as the ribbon of colors stretched out infinitely before us.
I will never regret pulling over to look at that rainbow; I will never regret the minutes we stood staring up at the sky on the side of the road in knee-high grass getting eaten up by mosquitos. I will never look back on these two photos with anything but fondness in my heart.
Because life is too short not to stop for rainbows.